Thursday, January 30, 2014

Staying close to home in January

With erratic January weather, sometime mild, sometime cold, we did not go on any trip but stayed close to home.  Last Tuesday morning we found out that our cat had pushed our telephone off the counter and it was broken.   We meant to go out and buy a new telephone until we saw a weather warning on television - snow was coming soon.  Indeed by 11:00 am on that Tuesday, January 28th, 2014, the first flakes were falling, so we stayed home.  Many people in and around Atlanta as well as all school children left early to go home and many did not make it there until Wednesday or even today, Thursday.

I had almost finished writing this post but stopped to take some pictures through our windows - as it was very cold and snowing.  Yesterday, Wednesday, we went walking in the afternoon to take photos of our rare snow - the last snow was three years ago, and it lasted three days only.  I'll show my new snow pictures in my next post, but below is a photo of our snowy road.

At the beginning of the month we drove to Johns Creek, GA, to a French bakery I had noticed on the Internet.  It is called "Sweet Tentations."  (Click on collage twice to enlarge.)

We had lunch there.  I selected the classic "Bouchee a la Reine" and salad, and my husband the stuffed avocado and salad.

My dish was very good but my husband said that his was a bit blend.  His taste bud is not as strong as it used to be so he likes food with a sharper taste.  I talked (in French) with the baker and his wife - they are from Toulon, France.  I also looked at several Paris Match magazines while eating my lunch.  We did buy a Galette des Rois to take home.  The galette was especially tasty, and my husband had the trinket (feve) in his piece of galette - this time it was a tiny fireman.

Apart from the Tour de France in July, I do not watch much television (too many books to read) but I like to watch Downton Abbey.  The series started again in January and watching Daisy with her new mixer reminded me that my daughter had given me a new mixer for Christmas.

My mixer, which had been a wedding present in 1967, was starting to show its age - it had given me great service for 46 years ... My old Hamilton Beach mixer is on the left and my new red Cuisinart mixer on the right.

Cranberries were still at the supermarket so I made a couple of cranberry-apple, and cranberry-cherry cakes.  I like to add spirits in my cooking, so I baked one with raisins soaked in Bourbon, and the other had dry cherries marinated in a Danish liquor called Cherry Heering.  Both were quite good.

I enjoy reading recipes like the lady below, but then I usually make my own versions - by adding a little bit of this, a little bit of that.  I try to write down my versions so that I won't forget them (in case they turn out to be delicious ...)

Nina Kupka by Frantisek Kupka, Czech 1871-1957

When the weather was quite cold I made a thick lentil soup with little French lentils, some lamb stew meat, kale, tomatoes, carrots and potatoes, and herbs - what I had on hand.  It turned out nicely served with a small salad on the side.

When it turns cold we also like to go to the movies.  We saw five films and part of a sixth one.  We saw Philomena, marvelously played by Judy Dench.  We also watched Inside Llewyn Davis, American Hustle, August: Osage County and Saving Mr. Banks - about Walt Disney and the author of the book Mary Poppins, P. L. Travers.  We started to watch The Wolf of Wall Street but left after about 1/2 hour.  It is a 3-hour long movie about a stockbroker's greed, drug use, trophy wives and too much obscene language for my comfort zone - it is a predictable story but a successful film though, but not for me - it did not inspire us.  My favorite film was Philomena.  I also enjoyed learning about the author of Mary Poppins, and did not know she was born in Australia.  I did read that the film left out many facts about P. L. Travers, but it is a film after all ... Since I had never read the book or seen the Disney movie Mary Poppins I ordered the DVD and just received it.

We ate out several times during the month.  A restaurant in Woodstock, GA, we visit often for breakfast, J. Christopher, had opened a branch in Kennesaw, near the mall where the movie theatre is located, so we had lunch there.  There are interesting art works displayed on the walls.

My husband had the Patty Melt sandwich (grilled burger topped with melted Swiss, caramelized onions, 1000 Isle dressing on rye bread with sauteed potatoes) and I had the soup and salad combo (Bleu cheese, tomato, avocado, red onion and chopped bacon on top a mound of fresh field greens with a grilled pepper and tomato soup with smoked Gouda cheese.)

I was going to call this post "Food in January" since I had taken pictures of meals at restaurants and at home, but after Tuesday snow fall, I changed the title so I could include some snowy pictures taken from my windows.  Today, Thursday, there is still snow on the ground but it will warm up to the 40s F (5 C) this afternoon and the 60s F (15 C) by Saturday.  But getting back to food, we stopped by the French bakery and cafe "La Madeleine" on a cold afternoon for a cup of tea and an almond croissant.  I enjoyed talking French with three African members of the staff, one from Senegal, one from Guinea Conakry and the other from Togo.

Back at home I made up another dish - chicken breast with an assortment of ingredients I had.  I did write the recipe down and called it "Impromptu Chicken" - covered the pieces in flour mixed with herbs, browned them in butter and olive oil and removed them from pan.  Fried green pepper, garlic and shallot on the side, then added some dried tomatoes, white wine, 1/2 and 1/2 cream, mushrooms and herbs.  It was quite good.

On another very cold day we went to Roswell, GA, and had lunch at The Swallow at the Hollow, a BBQ place.  At first we could not find it as it is a barn with a small sign.  Once indoor it looked very rustic but I had heard good reviews about the food.  My husband had a barbecue sandwich and baked beans and I had the Brunswick stew and fried green tomatoes (which were excellent.)  I really enjoyed the meal.  I did notice that most of the clientele was masculine and counted 22 men around us and one woman ... I think they have music at night (DJ and records maybe by the look at the 33 LP collections.)  Their sister restaurant, Greenwood's on Green Street, provide them with their famous pies - we shared a large piece of apple pie.

Last Tuesday as it was so very cold again I thought using the oven would warm up the kitchen nicely.  I decided to bake some brownies but again I had to use what was on hand since I could not drive to the grocery store on the icy roads.  I used semi-sweet chocolate pieces and cocoa powder, butter, 3 eggs, pecans, flour, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamon, with some cream cheese and Greek yogurt.  I also added a good tablespoon of Orange Liqueur I bought in Martinique, but Grand Marnier would work just as well, or orange juice.  I called that "Snow Day Brownies" and if anyone would like the recipe, just send me an email (as shown in my blog profile.)

We went to a couple more restaurants and I created some new dishes but by now I think everyone is stuffed and I'll get to my snowy pictures.  These were taken from behind my windows that have screens attached outside.  It was snowing as you can tell from the top picture.  My cat Cody was watching a little yellow bird with interest.

A woodpecker often flies to the center bird feeder but another bird, brown and black, decided to take shelter under it.  He stayed there, all puffed up, for quite a while.  I am not sure what type of bird he is.

I do not recognize birds well but cardinals are easy to spot with their beautiful bright red color.  I followed the cardinal below and his lady cardinal with my camera.

 There were a multitude of sparrows on the ground (at one time I counted 56!) and at the six bird feeders.  It even looked like they were fighting for the seeds, as you can see in the center picture below.  My husband braved the snow and cold and refilled all the bird feeders and spread more seeds on the ground and on the window sill.

But this brought out a squirrel and he jumped on the roof of the bird feeder and helped himself.

Yesterday our road was covered with snow and ice - no salt truck comes so far out until all the main roads are clear.  I just heard on the News that, as of today, Thursday afternoon January 30th, there are still over 2000 abandoned cars on the roads in our area.  Today though the snow is lovely under the bright afternoon sun - I took this picture from my front porch.

Note:  My next post will be about the snow storm in Metro Atlanta.


DJan said...

Wow! Even though you only traveled around the region, it was a very full post, VB. I thought about you when I saw what was happening in Atlanta and am glad you chose to stay inside. I also love Downton Abbey but hope that my favorite characters will have some kind of happy endings. I also loved Philomena and agree with you about Wolf of Wall Street. I left the theater feeling dirty after it ended.

Amanda said...

There is nothing like eating good, hearty food when it is cold outside. It is lightly raining in Los Angeles this evening which is quiet wonderful and a very welcome sight but not as pretty as your photos. Stay warm and safe!

Susan ~ Southern Fascinations said...

Such lovely photos of food and our snowy weather this week! Not as much snow for us further down state, but enough for dangerous conditions after the ice formed. Glad you are warm and cozy. Looking forward to a 60+ degree Saturday! Smiles...Susan

Cloudia said...

Awesome food!

ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
> < } } ( ° >

ELFI said...

ce petit oiseau rouge est sensationnel,adorable!

bayou said...

Dear Vagabonde, what a great post to read and soak in. So many things in common! Our new 'outlaws' are also living in Toulon but Michel is now working back in Paris and takes the TGV down every weekend. Philomena is a movie which was highly recommended by my dentist *ggg*.And friends went to see the Wolf of Wallstreet and did exactly the same than you- went out way before the end for all the same reasons than you. And just recently, we watched with EG Mary Poppins whilst he is able to sing all the songs and knows all the texts, isn't that stunning? It must be chaotic with the snow on your roads - EG is just preparing to travel home from Moscow where it has minus 27°C and his moustache froze. He said the worst is the long journeys in Taxis with all the smog around because Moscow is jam-packed full with cars and nothing moves. Due to the low temperature, the fumes cannot escape.
I very much enjoyed your post, as always!

betsy said...

I love your post and your photos!

The Broad said...

I'm quite hungry now! And how I miss the beautiful North American winter birds -- they give such colour to the often cold grey landscapes. My parents used to keep birdfeeders and we spent many lingering breakfasts watching them flutter in and out. Is that yellow and black bird a goldfinch?

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I thought of you when I saw all of the snow and the cars all over the place. I hoped you weren't among them and am so relieved that you stayed home. Love that French bakery and the pretty galette. Your bird photos are incredible.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I forgot to mention that I think we've been to "La Madeleine." If I'm correct, it's in Marietta, not too far from Harry's Foods. We enjoyed a very nice lunch there and later shopped for fabric for our wing chairs at Calico Corners. That is a very nice area.

Miss_Yves said...

Pas de neige en France, mais beaucoup de pluie et des inondations?.
" Downton Abbey" J'ai trouvé ce feuilleton palpitant, bien joué et avec une dimension sociologique très intéressante

Things and Thoughts said...

Tres enrichissant ce post, ca m'a fait vraiment plaisir d'y me plonger...Pas de neige ici,helas! Et Downton Abbay,on ne le passe plus ici mais j'etais accrochee a mon ecran l'annee derniere...
Amities et bon week end!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an amazing post. There was so much to absorb. Thank you for sharing. I feel as though I have had a lovely journey.

Marie-Anne said...

What a great post!!! I really enjoyed your photos of the birds, the food and la galette des rois, bien sur!!!
I hope the weather will get better soon in Georgia. (I have some cousins living in Atlanta and Palmetto, Ga.and they sent me photos of the snow!!)
Your previous post about Paris was so full of nostalgy. Paris has changed over the years, but after visiting it for more than 35 times,I now miss it (it is the third year I have not been there).
I always enjoy reading your posts, chere Vagabonde!!
Un grand merci!!!!!
PS. Stay warm and cosy!!!

David said...

Vagabonde, How about that snow! We didn't have it all that bad here in East Tennessee but it was the first real snowfall in about 3 years. Many schools were closed through Friday because of the ice on the hilly and mountainous roads. The Atlanta debacle was stunning!

That French Bakery looks like a great place. The photos of their product makes me wish that we had a few items in the house for breakfast tomorrow. We've eaten at J. Christopher in Chattanooga...pretty decent chain restaurant food.

In a way I'm glad that neither of us bake when we're confined in the house due to weather. My bulk doesn't need baked goods...but those cakes and the snow day brownies sure do look good! As for the lentil soup...looked great...real comfort food. Lamb stew...we'd love it but for some reason, most American don't eat lamb.

Thanks for another great and diverse posting! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Pondside said...

You really did get snow - like so much of the USA. We've had a mild and misty winter.
I imagine you must have thoroughly enjoyed visiting the French bakery and flipping through the Paris Match magazines. I enjoyed looking at the bakery items on display!
We're watching Downton Abbey too - I wouldn't miss an episode!

Patricia said...

Lovely post Vagabonde - just love all the foodie photos and am now mouthwateringly envious. x

Tamara said...

J'adore les photo's de la 'bakery'. Thanks for such a full and interesting post. I feel like i've been on a journey with you. I must say tho, the Galette des Rois looks divine. I feel lucky enough to have a french bakery by my work in Sydney, but I haven't seen these there yet. Is there a particular time of year for les Galettes des Rois?

Shammickite said...

I heard about the snow in Atlanta and even saw some TV footage of the traffic jams and the accidents. Of course, we were amazed that so little snow can cause so much trouble on the roads. We often have a lot more snow than that here in Canada and life continues as normal, but I understand that your area does not have the equipment to deal with a snowfall. At least the children got some time off school! Stay warm!

Jeanie said...

Well, I was worried about you getting around in the snow that has plagued your area, but my heart is at rest. I know you are eating well -- oh, that looks delicious! What a treat to have a new mixer!

And your birds are eating well, too! They are lovely. i can never get good bird photographs. Yours are splendid.

claude said...

Coucou Vagabonde
Plus le temps de lire ni regarder en détail, je repasserai la semaine prochaine.
Rigolo, ce soir, je mange une bouchée à la Reine !

Frances said...

What a marvelous reporter you are, dear Vagabonde. I do feel as if you and your husband have been making the most of a January that would have daunted many other folks in your area.


I am looking to the next report. xo

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I love all the pictures of food! It made my mouth water and I am going to make my breakfast right after I finish commenting!
To have so much snow....My Lordy! And yet, the Birds still come....SWEET Pictures of all the Birds....And I very much enjoyed your pictures of the wonderful things you baked....I have a
feeling you are a MARVELOUS Cook! You obviously keep a lot of goodies on hand so you can make all sorts of dishes.....! YUMMMM!
We don't have Cardinals here in L.A. and I think they are such BEAUTIFUL Birds!!! It was wonderful to see your pictures of them....! This was a fun post, my dear---filled with so very many delicious foods...!

✿France✿ said...

Bonsoir je vois que tu as pu profité de la neige qui se fait trés rare ici et je viens de lire que tu aimais lire des recette à l'ancienne comme avant*
oui je trouve aussi que c'est génial de lire et de faire sa préparation
des oiseaux chez toi et ils sont sublimes
le cardinal que je n'ai jamais pu voir est de toute beauté et le pic aussi
puis ce petit écureuil j'adore il vient regarder dans ta petite maison s'il reste de quoi se nourrir
elles sont très belles tes photos
Merci pour ces beaux partages
bisou et bonne soirée

Kay said...

Really beautiful snow pictures, but after seeing your other delicious photos, I'm starving! Yuuum!

Magic Love Crow said...

All this food! I'm hungry now! LOL! Mom and I thought your mixer was cute ;o) She thought she was the only one who held on to things ;o) Love all the bird pictures! Hugs ;o)

Sally Wessely said...

There is so much to comment on this blog. As always, I loved your photos. The food made me a bit jealous that I wasn't with you for these food ventures.

Stay safe and warm. I'm glad you weren't out on the road.

I hope you like Mary Poppins.

Mary said...

Dearest, I loved this very varied post - especially the visit to the French bakery and details of your time there eating and meeting the owners from Toulon.

Love your bird/squirrel pics - I put some up too this week - and Cody certainly seemed to be enjoying the goldfinches, I've not seen any this winter here.

I know I owe you an e-mail, hopefully my laptop will be home this coming week and I can catch up. Thinking of you and sending a warm hug.
Mary X

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

It's so fun you were able to eat "galette des rois"! Sending you some mild Brittany weather!

Carola Bartz said...

So much delicious food in this post! I loved the visit to the French bakery - did I see mille feuille? Oh how yummy!!!
"Mary Poppins" was the first movie I ever saw in the cinema, I was five or six years old. It was magical to me at that age. I watched it again as an adult and was so disappointed not to find the magic again I had experienced as a child. We watched "Saving Mr. Banks" and I found it rather sad, but Emma Thompson just wonderful.
Of course we have heard about the snow in Atlanta - those poor people who had to stay the night in their cars. Not a nice experience at all.
Lovely birds at your feeders, I envy you for the variety. I get lots of birds at my feeders as well - and squirrels, of course. We don't have cardinals in this area - kind of sad since I like these birds very much. They look so cheerful.

Stewart M said...

Nice post - we had to replace my wife's mixer last year - she had it for 30 years!

We caught about 300 birds - a did catch some that had been banded before - but they were birds we had caught in previous years - so they were not a big surprise.

Glad you enjoyed the post.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

La Table De Nana said...

What a fun read.. You are terrific in the kitchen..that chicken dish looks delicious..The snow is pretty though didn't you find?
You two do a lot.. I can't wait to see Philomena.. we are more the let's wait until it comes to the television or a DVD..etc..
I guess because our winter is so long and cold..we stay in more..
Tell me about your hand mixer..when my harvest gold one stopped functioning a few yrs ago..I replaced it..I rarely use it as it throws everything out of the bowl..and I am told many are hyperactive:) Is yours?
Looks so pretty red and fun..

Anonymous said...

What a lovely blog. The bird photos are brilliant and so is the Kupka drawing - such a sensitive treatment of this domestic scene.

Jono said...

Now I am drooling. Good food this time of year is what gets me by during the cold and dark season. I can see that Cody understands real entertainment.

Arti said...

Your post has all that I like: Birds, pastries, bakeries, restaurants, movies, and.. Downton Abbey! Again, so rich, colourful, delicious, and fascinating. I'm glad you got a chance to speak French with the staff and the restaurant. You should come up to Quebec, then you can speak French all day. Seems like we're sharing some snowy winter, even though we are so far apart.

claude said...

Un post bien varié, Vagabonde entre neige et oiseau en passant par le bon mangé. C'est bien appétissant tout cela et cela me fait penser qu'il faut que je descende en cuisine préparer mon canard petit pois.
Point de neige ici mais nous en avons trouvé sur la route à une bonne centaine de kms en Allemagne avant d'arriver à notre destination.

Cynthia said...

Wow, that food all looks so delicious! You find interesting places to at. Your birds are such a bright spot of color on the wintery days. I have cardinals for red and I treasure them.
I just watched an interesting film on Youtube, a BBC production, about the real Mary Poppins. I'll see if I can send you a link. I thought it was very interesting. It is in 6 parts, but this will get you started. Great way to spend a winter aftnoon, I say!

Amanda said...

Thank you for the "You tube" link Cynthia! I only watched the first part and will watch the rest later.

Pat said...

Another lovely Vagabonde post.
Like us you are having the weather that makes you want to hunker down although we are having endless gales and rain - not snow. With all that cooking you should be able to survive the winter. I am scraping the bottom of the barrel as a chill/cold has kept me indoors. The avocado I had on Saturday night - eating out with our French son was as hard as a rock and inedible.
I look forward to seeing Philomena now I have a new tablet. I just have to learn how to use it:)

Jocelyn said...

I was hungry when I started reading, and now I'm ravenous.

That goods in that bakery look amazing--and how fun that you can enjoy a small feeling of France while you're there.

The Atlanta snowstorm amazes me; it reminds me how hard it is to deal with unfamiliar conditions.

Vicki Lane said...

My heavens, so much wonderful food! In spite of having just finished supper, I feel hungry. I'll have to try your Impromptu Chicken soon.

Glenda Beall said...

Fantastic post. I love the photos and the food sounds great. I look forward to seeing some of the movies you mention, but that Wolf of Wall Street is not on my list.

Ginnie said...

As you can imagine, Vagabonde, I have followed your weather there with great interest! It's hard to believe the entire city came to a stand-still like that, with so many stranded for so many hours. I guess they're still trying to lay blame somewhere, aren't they??!!

But all that food in the meantime. YAY for winter...which we still need here in Dutchland. You have had more cold and snow there in the Deep South than many places in Europe have had this winter. Unbelievable...and very sad, when you think about Climate Change.

I love your food, your restaurants and cooking, and I love your birds and everything, everything. What a delight to read and see!

rjerdee said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment! I was delighted to hear from someone new and have begun exploring your blog. Delightful! Especially those bright red cardinal pictures in the snow :) Pretty as red roses, eh?
I will return soon for another look around...
Thanks for coming by!
P. S. (I LOVED Philomena, too)

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, what a packed posting--food, movies, snowstorm, birds, restaurants, cooking--you surely give us so much to think about each time your post.

I haven't seen any of those movies. I'm waiting until they are in the library system. Then I'll look at them on my television. Today, I wanted to make yeast bread or quick bread but have no milk for the yeast bread recipe that is my favorite (100% whole wheat) and no eggs for the quickbread nor for the pumpkin pudding I like to make and so I think I'll settle down and read a good book.

The Atlanta storm was on the national news as was the snowfall we had yesterday here in western Missouri. I went out and shoveled three times to keep up with it and I measured 11 inches. It's a light, sparkly snow, and when I went out at 8 pm last night to do my final shoveling, it sparkled like fairy dust. So gorgeous. Peace.

Jeanne said...

So many wonderful shots! As soon as I saw the post of the bakery, it took me back to Paris in my mind! Those deserts look wonderful. I also am enjoying Downton Abbey, and have been loving also the Ralph Lauren Advertisement that plays. i have been seeing a car in that ad that is amazing, and decided it is one i must have. See it is a BUGATI, and the cost???? 40 MILLION DOLLARS. Have a great day!

Arti said...

I see the Arctic Vortex has turned winter upside down: Warm Alaska, Cold Georgia. Well, that just means the Vortex has brought you and me closer although we're thousands of miles apart. Closer because now you get to experience what to us is an annual substance: winter snow. Again, I must say I've enjoyed all your photos. The nice French restaurant and its offerings are wonderful contrasts to the traffic mayhem the snow storm had brought about.

Perpetua said...

Mmm... Your images and descriptions of your meals, whether home-made or eaten out, are mouth-watering, Vagabonde. I feel hungry now. :-)

Beautiful photos of the snow. You've had so much more than we have this year. All our precipitation is falling as heavy rain.

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